Saturday, September 15, 2012

"There are still people who have not sold themselves to greed"

How often I feel that the struggle to save Jeju Island from a navy base is emblematic of our struggle all over the planet to preserve Earth as a place where humans can live, and to resist its destruction by powerful, wealthy interests served by their police and their armies.
An artist-activist whom I deeply respect and always enjoy working with, Natasha Mayers, shared this letter from a Jeju activist reporting on the outcome of the environmental conference that just ended there.  And I'm sharing it here because it so beautifully expresses the slogan we sometimes hear chanted on marches or at Occupy events? "Ain't no power like the power of the people, 'Cause the power of the people don't stop! (Say what?)" Put another way, the power of art and creativity are with the 99%. As is the love.

Well, as you all know by now we did not get the Gangjeong motion 181 passed. Which to be honest was a little expected as knew it would be hard to the government votes. But still as you saw from the numbers, the NGOs overwhelmingly voted for us and almost no one voted from the governments and we even got 20 in support from governments! And we have overcome enormous obstacles, oppression and harrassment and made many many new friends who worked insanely hard for us and for whom we are incredibly grateful. The IUCN itself may be a corrupt, corporate/government sellout monster, but inside it are many truly amazing and wonderful people. Especially awesome are our lawyers from Center for Humans and Nature, our many supporters for latin and south america, and many other people many of whom i couldn't even meet or don't know the names of, but did amazing work.

No doubt the korean government/navy will spin this in their favor, as they would anything really, but really this is a victory for us. We got so much more support than ever before, so many new people and organizations and lawyers and politicians, and media, from so many different countries around the world know about us and support us 100%. And many of them have said this is not the end, and they are going to continue this work both within the IUCN and through other ways, around the world.

We are all truly grateful to so many awesome people who really came together and worked incredibly hard day and night.

We feel so cared about and know that we are not alone here.

There are people who care about justice in the world.

There are people who care about the environment and the earth.

There are people who work with their hearts and fight for truth.

There are still people who have not sold themselves to greed and power, and become liars and slaves.

So yes, to be honest we are sad that our motion did not become a resolution. Of course we cried and felt rejected once again. But tears and rejection are nothing new to Gangjeong, and after tears comes dancing! And wow, did we dance and dance and dance and sing and yell! Then we cried some more, then we hugged, then we sang and danced, then we clapped for each other, gave speeches and more hugs, then we bowed to each other, deep bows to the villagers who have fought so hard for so long and to the people who have come from far away to work so hard for us.

We will not give up! We will not stop! Our cause is just! Everyone in the world must know the Gangjeong struggle! We may lose 1,000 meaningless battles, but we will continue on. You can keeping locking us in prison, You can keep deporting us and denying our entry to korea, you can can keep beating us as you do daily, you can keep treating us like criminals and animals, you can keep mocking us as you destroy all that is precious about life. We will continue to dance! We will continue to sing! And we will love each other, our community, and even you, our enemies, with all of our hearts! And maybe one day you will join us, as many already have, and as we join in solidarity with so many other similar struggles around the world.

Samsung, Daelim, Hired Thugs, Police, Coast Guard, Courts, Judges, ROK Navy, Ministry of Defense, U.S. Navy, Politicians, ROK Government, U.S. Government: You've fought for greed and for power, through violence, lies, and theft. You've already lost because you've lost yourself. We do not fight to win, we fight because we've already won. Peace has already won. We are just here to shout it from the streets!

No Naval Base! Justice for Gangjeong! Life and peace for all creatures of the Earth!

Sign a petition to Samsung and the government of South Korea here.

1 comment:

chrisrushlau said...

A definition of reality I picked up in the Catholic world is "reality is the thing thought." I now understand this formula as the essence of scholisticism. Perhaps the practical yet polemical definition of scholasticism is that, when the teacher asks a question, it's a test of loyalty: the student is supposed to find which dogma (it may be dogfood or Red Sox you're talking about but it's still a dogma) she is supposed to cough up like Pavlov's dog. I might satirize it like this: "You ask me what I think, Professor--well, let me ask you something: what would you like me to think?"
This is not sheer solipsism: "the self alone": and thus relativism. Rather, the one thing outside the mind that is taken seriously here is Authority. I would offer the term "empire" as the essential social model here, not church or even academia. An empire is based on an imperator: one who tells you what to do, in the imperative. People need to know what the imperator wants, so as to avoid displeasing her. So they speculate endlessly, conduct experiments, compare notes with each other (albeit without jeopardizing their respective career positions), to ascertain the latest wrinkle in the party line. They don't care if the party line is good for the world in this inch of its length and destructive in that half inch. If it's the party line, it's all right by them. The school solution is by definition the correct solution. Don't rock the boat. Don't draw attention to yourself. Don't ask questions.
That's the mind of the imperial subject. If anything goes wrong in the world beyond my imagination, it's not my fault, because I was only sucking up. I wasn't paying attention beyond that.
But what can an opposing position be? As R.G. Collingwood quipped, the only thing we know about the unknown is that it's the unknown. Anything outside my understanding is by that fact alone none of my business. How can anybody hold me responsible for anything?
The answer is that what we understand is not necessarily sincere. The attempt to ferret out the party line so as not to run afoul of it is in bad faith, in assigning significance to one part of what lies beyond my immediate comprehension (the latest wrinkle in the party line) and seeking it out, holding myself accountable to what I find whether I like it or not, but in rejecting as meaningless whatever else I might determine, learn, stumble across, such as whether the party line is correct in this instance.
So I'd quip back to Collingwood, "As soon as you localize the unknown as 'this unknown', you know more than you did before and you're responsible for more than you were before."
As for the Catholic definition, I'm sure it's written somewhere else, among the grafitti on the walls of the Cosmic Catholic Restroom, "There's thinking and then there's damn bullshit."